Trading places: Greece and Spain share culture

A highly successful exhibition on Domenikos Theotokopoulos (El Greco), followed by a panorama of Spanish painters from the last 100 years, both held at the National Gallery, were only the beginning of a Greek-Spanish cultural exchange program that has much still in store. Worthwhile events are being planned for the next two years, both as part of the Cultural Olympiad, the four-year series of events leading to the Athens Olympics, and individually. Animal and myth At present, an exhibition titled «The Bull in the Mediterranean,» with a display of works of art depicting the animal’s importance as a mythological and historic symbol during antiquity, is on show in Barcelona and will be brought to Athens next spring. Its artifacts have been culled from various Greek and foreign archaeological museums. At this stage, it is also considered highly likely that «Ploes,» an exhibition scheduled for the Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens in the spring – within the framework of the Cultural Olympiad – will be transferred to Spain. It features archaeological findings connected with the fervent commercial trade in the Mediterranean region between 1,600 BC and 600 BC. In another effort, announced by Spain’s Culture Minister Pilar del Castillo last October, a comprehensive exhibition on Sephardic Jews currently on display in Toledo, in central Spain, will soon travel to Thessaloniki, a city which had a considerable Jewish population until World War II. Two other worthy events are being lined up for the near future. Manos Perrakis, an architect, will design a new theater for the city of Sagunto in Spain, based on the plans of a recently completed venue in Piraeus. And in 2004, Greece will be the honored country at ARCO, a major artistic event that draws painters from around the world. Sixteen Greek galleries will participate. Sideline events will also be held at ARCO to promote Greek art, one of the more substantial being an exhibition of prominent 20th century Greek collectors. Bilateral enthusiasm Spain’s ambassador to Greece, Eduardo Junco Bonet, expressed his enthusiasm for the bilateral cultural exchange program at a recent dinner for Greek journalists. «Besides the fact that the last two exhibitions were of high quality, we’re seeing that exchange spreading into many other forms of cultural activity, such as the theater being designed by Manos Perrakis,» said Junco Bonet. «As you can see, this collaboration not only has a bright past, but a bright future, too,» he added. Marina Lambraki-Plaka, the National Gallery’s director, and Dolly Goulandri, who runs the Cycladic Museum in Athens, who both attended the dinner, said they were satisfied by the public’s response to the exhibitions hosted by their respective galleries. Goulandri also took the opportunity to inform the press that an exhibition that had been scheduled for 2004, titled «The Human Body,» will not take place after all due to a lack of funding. Instead, the Cycladic Museum will put on an exhibition featuring works by prominent sculptors such as Constantin Brancusi, a Romanian artist who eventually settled in Paris, and English abstract sculptor Henry Moore.

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